Our beloved Cuzco carries out many feast through out the year. Each of its districts and nearby towns sponsor feasts on different dates. And, each of these feasts involves dancers and costumes.
The music and dancing stand out from far away, but the costumes are what mark the different dancers and classify them as characters. In each town and in each feast they use different types of dress, each requiring different embroidery in a variety of colors, so that the dancers can be distinguished from far away.
Different styles and forms, such as flowers, animals, and geometric figures. From ancient times these predominate in the costumes of each community. Many people in Cuzco are dedicated to learning about these traditions and being able to make appropriate costumes. Parents pass this craft on to children and our culture and art is maintained.
Nevertheless, not everyone who works in the field learned it as an inheritance. There are those who love the craft and art and learn to embroider because of that love.
But Benjamín Chelquetuma Huaman is not one of these latter. He is the son of embroiderers and is a young man with a lot of imagination and creativity. He says embroidery became his life when he started embroidering at 12 years old. While some still embroider by hand, Benjamin uses a style called maquinaska, that is embroidery by machine.
His older brother also embroiders. He motivated Benjamín to try maquinaska and then continue with it. His grandparents also worked with machines, but they were ancient although with them his grandparents could make beautiful works of embroidery.
Benjamín would get up each day to innovate new embroideries and to become skilled at the machine. He says he dreamed about embroidery and then he would try to carry out the dreams on wide pieces of cloth, with a diversity of multicolored threads. Every day his work would be finer and his figures more attractive.
On different frames and with a whole range of threads, he carries out the work of an embroiderer. Together with his equipment he makes traditional costumes that are for sale, as well as unique articles of clothing with beautiful designs.
Benjamín makes collections of fashion for models to wear on the runway and sells many of them. He also collects old embroideries from all the regions of Cuzco in order to show the world a bit of our culture.
His art can be seen in a new store in the tourist section of town, the Procuradores Street 372, where his work will not just be available for those who know where to find Cuzco’s costume makers, but also for a more global public of visitors to our city.